March against Monsanto for World Food Day

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Today is World Food Day and I’ve just spent a great morning with my kids and my mum joining our local March Against Monsanto. I live in a small seaside conurbation outside of Brisbane, so there weren’t thousands at the march like there will be in cities all over the world today, but as guest speaker Liz Gilbert Grant said, “look around, these are your people, this is your community”.

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If you’re wondering what the March Against Monsanto is all about, read on. If you were at the march this morning, here are the photos, as promised.

Why March against Monsanto?

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Monsanto is  the most famous – or maybe I should say infamous – agrochemical company that makes genetically modified seeds to sell to farmers. It is a huge corporation that has its tentacles all over the world, even in some of the smallest countries.

There are many reasons people are suspicious or downright hostile towards Monsanto, here is a very simple rundown:

  • Monsanto is an agricultural chemical company that used to make agent orange, the chemical dumped on Vietnamese jungles to strip them of vegetation and make it easier to find the enemy during the civil war in the late 60s/early 70s.
  • The company also makes Roundup, a widely used herbicide, which they insist is safe, despite a growing body of evidence that it builds up in soil and has chronic effects on human and animal health.
  • By no coincidence, Monsanto also makes genetically modified seeds that are resistant to Roundup, meaning the herbicide can be applied liberally to crops making it theoretically easier for farmers to manage their weeds while increasing yield.
  • The seeds have been designed so that they won’t propagate, meaning farmers have to buy seeds each season.
  • Monsanto has been known to come down hard on farmers whose crops are contaminated by their GM seeds, even if the farmer did nothing wrong.
  • Monsanto is profit hungry and dominates the market, meaning it has an unprecedented control over many staple crops worldwide.

As I said, this is a very light version of the story and you can find plenty of information online. I suggest you start here, with Greenpeace’s article about the company.

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The reason I marched against Monsanto today was to raise awareness of GMOs in food in Australia. I think so many people think it’s a distant problem, when in fact 70 percent of all processed foods in Australia contain genetically modified ingredients and we literally don’t know how they are affecting us . You can read about how to avoid GMOs here.

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A huge thanks to Barbie, the organiser of the Redcliffe March Against Monsanto, who is most certainly not a “nobody”, but a “somebody who inspired and organised us all.

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Comments

  1. Andrew Karpenko says

    Hello, Thanks so much for uploading these pics! So this was a first for Redcliffe right? I was at the marches in the Brisbane CBD in March.. So it was great to see a local march in Redcliffe. Thanks so much for organising and uploading these pics! ((hugs)) Andrew. ( I was in the Hawaiian shirt).

  2. Abbie says

    I went to the march in Melbourne a few months ago, couldn’t make it to the more recent one. I am quite passionate about this issue, despite the total lack of understanding and knowledge most people have for this topic (and dare I say, for some people, lack of care as well?)

    I do have to make one alteration – terminator technology, where the seeds don’t grow again, isn’t in any of the current commercially available GM crops. It’s in the pipeline, but hasn’t officially been released (I say that because there are all manner of incidences where unnapproved stuff gets “Accidentally” (and I use that term VERY loosely) released and ends up all over the place by sheer “accident” and “mystery”.)

    For me, I worry about the untracked health impacts, as well as one company (as well as the other biggies out there eg Bayer, Syngenta etc) having such a tight control over our food supply. The ethics of forcing their way into developing countries where they are not wanted is very dodgy, as is their claim that they are trying to “feed the world” and the only way to do that is with GM crops – they do not improve yield, nor do they address the main reasons that there are people starving in this world – GM crops are not fixing problems with inequality, development, markets, education, storage, debt, etc etc etc – there is plenty of food in the world, but it does not get to those that need it.

    Farmers, no matter where they are from, do not need seeds that cost more, and require Monsanto branded herbicides (because once you buy their seeds you are legally bound to buy their herbicide as well) and large amounts of artificial fertilisers to grow. This is an unsustainable system that is heavily reliant on fossil fuels and has created massive amounts of pollution in the water, dead or dying topsoil, as well as a host of other environmental and health problems. There are a lot of ties between Monsanto and the US government, who spend a lot of time advocating on Monsanto’s behalf.

    Superweeds are emerging in the US where farmers are growing roundup ready crops – where the plants can withstand repeated sprayings of roundup and survive. So more roundup in the soil, more in the food, and more weeds becoming resistant, which therefore need more toxic chemicals to control. There are now plans for making these plants resistant to not only roundup but worse chemicals.

    I could keep going on but it makes me too mad  Will now focus on how to avoid them.

  3. Abbie says

    Avoiding GM:

    1. Buy Certified Organic. Buy Australian or European based certified organics – US organics have to allow a small percentage of GM contamination because GM is so widespread there, they had trouble getting 100% GM free. (still a better option, though, than standard)
    2. Buy Australian made and produced, that does not contain Canola/vegetable oil, or cottonseed oil. Check out the fast food retailers, a lot of them use either of these. Canola and cotton are the only two GM crops grown commercially here in Aus (at the moment).
    3. Grow your own food
    4. Make your own foods from ingredients you know and trust.

    But the big thing about avoiding GM, is letting other people know about it, and making a stand – at the moment, we have the luxury of still being able to avoid it – if people aren’t kicking up a big enough stink, then it will invade more and more and soon enough we may not have a choice to avoid it.

  4. Abbie says

    And sorry for the third bite, but just remembered my biggest issue with it all – GM is about continuing an unsustainable system, and not about addressing the real problem. EG Salt tolerant wheat (still being developed) is in the pipeline because of wheat growing areas becoming more saline due to current agricultural practices. The problem isn’t that the wheat isn’t salt tolerant enough, the problem is with how it is grown in the first place. Address that problem, and you wouldn’t need the GM crops. They are completely superfluous to our needs. GM Golden Rice (still not released widescale yet), designed to contain more vitamin A for those places in developing countries with Vit A lacking in their diets – the problem isn’t that they don’t have a fortified rice, the problem is that they do not have access to enough varied foods to be able to get it in their normal diet – the problem is a lack of access to good food, not a lack of a fortified rice. It isn’t solving the bigger problem. Roundup ready and Bt crops (crops that produce their own pesticides) have been developed to allow business as usual when it comes to growing foods, instead of recognising that our current methods are not working and that we should try something different and more sustainable.

    Rant over. (for now)

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